Last August, WhartonBrooks announced that it was planning to launch a new Windows 10 Mobile device in the autumn, promising that it would be "the most disruptive since the advent of the smartphone in 2000". The company claimed that it would bring "new products and services that will radically change the mobile computing industry".
But in September, it postponed an event it was due to hold at a Microsoft Store, saying that it needed to "align schedules" with all the partners who wanted to join in. That event was never rescheduled. In October, it said that its handset had been delayed due to "regulatory hurdles".
In March of this year, WhartonBrooks finally revealed its new device, the Cerulean Moment. The mid-range handset featured specs that fell a long way short of the lofty promises that the company had made, including a Snapdragon 617 processor, and a 720p display. Nonetheless, it started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, hoping to raise $1.1 million to fund the handset's launch.
Today, that campaign ended, having reached just $29,793, or 3% of its funding goal, with support from 103 backers. Three weeks ago, WhartonBrooks also launched a local crowdfunding effort in Brazil on Kickante; as it currently stands, that campaign has raised just R$31,500 of its R$5.8 million target - less than 1% of its goal.
WhartonBrooks' CEO Greg Murphy said to me last month that the "Cerulean Moment does everything we said it would do", and emphasized that the device was designed "for the fans" of Windows phones. However, for whatever reason, the Moment hasn't resonated with fans, or other potential buyers, as much as the company had anticipated.
Additionally, WhartonBrooks hasn't always approached fans' opinions with deference. Last month, the official Twitter account for WhartonBrooks' Brazilian operations told a Windows phone fan and Windows Insider to "shut up", after he said that an article by Windows Central executive editor Daniel Rubino - which discouraged people from buying the Moment - had "some truth in it".
The failure of its Indiegogo campaign to meet its goal raises questions about WhartonBrooks' plans - not just for the Moment, but for other products on its roadmap too. Murphy said in an interview last month that four more Windows 10 Mobile handsets were planned, along with a virtual reality headset. Murphy added that the company's development of future devices would be "completely crowd-driven, so we'll let the community decide which phone we pursue first".
In a Twitter poll that it created on May 12, Cerulean Mobile asked the community what they would be willing to pay for a Windows phone with a Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB RAM, 128GB storage, dual 16MP cameras, a fingerprint reader, NFC, and universal SIM support.
Almost half of those who voted in the poll said they wouldn't pay more than $500 for such a device - but given the small sales volumes that WhartonBrooks could reasonably expect, it's unlikely that the company could benefit from the economies of scale available to larger manufacturers, which help them to reduce their prices on high-end hardware, and to sell their devices with wafer-thin profit margins.
It's not yet clear if that poll related to a specific product in development by WhartonBrooks, but it's worth noting - as some pointed out on Twitter - that Windows 10 Mobile does not support the Snapdragon 835 chipset, or ARM64, which would be necessary for devices with more than 4GB of RAM. The 835 will support Microsoft's Windows 10 on ARM efforts, but both Microsoft and Qualcomm have referred to such devices as "Windows 10 ARM PCs" or "Mobile PCs", rather than the "Windows Phone" terminology used by Cerulean Mobile.